There was no sign of an end to the 24-day-old impasse in Kingfisher Airlines with the striking employees today rejecting a fresh offer of staggered payment of three months' salary dues and insisting on lumpsum amount.
"The management has been shooting such letters regularly, but they have failed to honour their commitments. We reject this offer and demand a lumpsum payment of a minimum of three months' salary, if not of four months," a protesting senior engineer told PTI in New Delhi.
After two rounds of talks in Mumbai yesterday, Kingfisher CEO Sanjay Aggarwal today sent a letter to the staff saying the March 2012 salary will be paid on or before October 25.
"We have urged them to accept our offer and should they agree, they will receive the April 2012 salary on or before October 31 and the May 2012 salary before Diwali. In essence, the Company will pay three months of salary before Diwali to these employees," he said in the letter.
Not convinced by the mail which reiterated the offer made yesterday, the employees, who held meetings in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai, rejected the offer.
The agitators alleged that the management, by posting such mails to individual employees, was "trying to break our unity".
Aggarwal held out the assurance that the remaining backlog of salaries from June to September "will be paid once the company has been recapitalized upon equity infusion."
Commencing December, salaries would be paid in 30-day arrears on a monthly basis. That is, the airline would pay the October salary in December, the November salary in January and so on, the CEO said.
"It is essential that we resume operations at the earliest post approval from the regulatory body," he said.
The employees, who have not been paid for the last seven
months, have been on strike since September 29, which led the airline to declare a lockout that has now been extended indefinitely till normalcy is restored.
The agitating staff have planned to hold demonstrations and other protest actions, especially at the venues of the upcoming Formula One motor race in which UB Group chief and Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya is involved.
The airline is saddled with a loss of Rs 8,000 crore and a debt burden of another over Rs 7,524 crore, a large part of which has not been serviced since January. It currently has only 10 operational aircraft compared to 66 a year ago.
Even if all employees resume duty immediately, the airline would take about a month to launch its operations after getting all clearances from the regulator, airline sources said.
While requesting the DGCA to revoke the suspension of their Scheduled Operator's Permit (SOP), Kingfisher would also have to ask its licensed category employees, like pilots and engineers, to fulfil all the mandatory requirements for resuming duties. These include flight tests and medical checks, which have to be conducted under DGCA guidelines.
The scheduling of its flights would also have to be approved by the aviation regulator and the pilots and cabin crew have to be informed much in advance of the scheduled date of operation.
Yesterday's meeting was the first since Kingfisher's flying license was suspended by DGCA on October five following its failure to come up with a viable plan of financial and operational revival.
All flight operations of Kingfisher were stopped on October 1 when the airline declared a lockout.
Kingfisher was issued an airline licence on August 26, 2003 with validity till December 31.